Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I have a lot of questions about some terms:

I don't understand the relationship between scarcity and risk and how one comes to replace the other, "The place of eliminating scarcity is taken by eliminating risk" (47)

What is the difference between scientific and social rationality, or not what is the difference but how does one reconcile the two when one is trying to model individuals on a large scale and what exactly does it mean when Beck writes of a "loss of social thinking", I know in lecture the answer was, "well what is the alternative"? Also, what happens to the risk that is there but is unquantifiable, he writes, "these incalculable threats add up to an unknown residual risk which becomes the industrial endowment for everyone everywhere". Also, is a "threat" an unquantifiable risk?

Something I was thinking about while thinking about climate change and the risk essay was about how they are communicated. I thought back to Terranova's discussion about affect and communication not just being about the sender, receiver, noise model, and I felt like the graphs didn't really do much interms of affect. Even the color diagrams of the global temperature change didn't really tell me much about what that would be like, or feel like. Then the question came up of which trend they show that is more extreme and affectatious to get people to take notice.  I just wonder if there is a different way of communicating these large scale models of invisible, "deniable" phenomenon, maybe not through diagrams, graphs, and such, but with animation, paint, and film where you insert humans back into these abstracted concepts and show what it would really look or feel like. That being said, I don't really know how productive it would be.

I get the feeling that what this is really trying to do is quantify compassion and give hard facts as reasons for empathy and compassion beyond national boundaries, economic or military allies, and see the world as inhabited by humans instead of assets or points on an x/y doomsday axis. Or maybe this obsession with prediction, models, and accuracy is symptomatic of something else that is happening, why isn't it enough to know that the environment is changing right now, that nuclear accidents have happened, that there is inequality. Maybe the scientific rationality impulse is in denial or fetishizing risk, change, and threat or maybe it is a way to keep the notion of  "other" (race, class, nationality, etc) alive in a world where those notions are becoming increasingly irrelevant because of precisely those threats and risks and what produces them.

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